Ukulele strings have a reputation for being very resilient. And while they aren’t as fragile and prone to wear as much as metal guitar strings, they still need to be changed every so often.
In fact, if your uke is starting to sounds even the slightest bit dull, a complete changing of strings will give it new life, making it both easier to play, and much more sharp in terms of sound.
Ukuleles are very similar to guitars when it comes to changing out the strings, but there are a few differences that remain.
Stringing a ukulele is not that hard of a process, but there are some things you need to be aware of before starting.
After stringing the uke, it is best to stretch out the strings for a bit before relaxing the tension and going about your tuning methods.
Also, different ukuleles have different bridge styles. Some have slots, while others have retainer pegs that you usually see on a basic acoustic guitar. Other ukuleles may have a bridge similar to a classical guitar, which means you’ll have to actually tie each string to the bridge.
Unless your uke has retainer pegs to hold the strings down, you’ll need to use a knot either way. The majority of ukuleles have a bridge that requires a knot to be tied around it, so we’ll focus on that style for these instructions.
Begin by getting together all the items you’ll need for the process. This includes:
If you still have your strings on, it’s time to remove them. Start by unwinding the pegs to loosen them. Once the strings are loose enough, pull them out of the holes, and then remove the strings at the bridge.
If you don’t want to deal with untying the knots, you can simply clip them off. Discard the strings when you’re done.
This next step isn’t required, but it is a great idea. With all of the strings off, it’s a good time to clean off your fretboard. This allows you to remove any dirt and build up, giving he neck a much better feel and action.
You can clean it off by gently rubbing your fretboard with extra-fine steel wool (0000 grade,) going along the grain.
Using your graphite pencil, rub a little bit into each slot in the ukulele’s nut. This will make it easier to slide the strings through each of the slots.
Start by feeding one end of the string through the back of the uke’s bridge. After that, take it and wrap it around itself. Place it around the base of the bridge, wrap the excess under the string once, then do it again to prevent the string from slipping off. Pull the string tight to fully anchor it to the bridge.
Run the string up the fretboard, through the slots, and into the pegs. Make a crimp in the string about two inches past the peg. Feed the string through the hole until the crimp is through the peg hole, and wind it around three times. Repeat for each string.
If you have a string winder as part of your tool, this is the time to use it. Wrap the first turn above the tuning peg’s hole, then push down below the hole just before you completing a turn, then continue winding. Keep going until the string is close to being tuned.
After you’re done with one continue winding for each string until the ukulele is ready to be tuned. Snip off any excess string that is present at the top, and you’re ready to tune and play.
As mentioned earlier, this process is actually pretty simple once you’ve done it once. After changing the strings the first time, you’ll be able to do the process rather quickly each time after.
Just remember to not wait until it’s too late to change the strings. Staying on a loose schedule will ensure that your uke is always sounding and playing its best.